Category Archives: Around the Majors

Kevin Slowey? Really?

A message popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday. The message (from told me that the Toronto Blue Jays are interested in acquiring Kevin Slowey from the Minnesota Twins.

One look at that and I had to ask myself:


Kevin Slowey?


On the surface I can see people getting excited about it:

– Slowey is young (he’ll turn 27 in May)

– He has a career record of 39 – 21

– Over the past two seasons he has a record of 23 – 9

– He doesn’t walk many batters (career BB/9 of 1.5)

But as any knowledgeable baseball fan knows, there is more to a pitcher than wins and losses. Much, much more.

Wins and losses are heavily team influenced. Pitching for the last place Mariners, Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez had only three more wins (13) than the erratic and idiotic A.J. Burnett had (10) for the Yankees.

Considering that the Twins won 348 games over the past four years, including back-to-back AL Central titles, Slowey should have a good record. That’s not a selling feature, it’s more of a necessity.

When you remove his W-L record from the equation, the rest of his stats are middling: 4.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.9 K/9. Average.

Toronto shouldn’t be focused on acquiring an average pitcher.

On top of that, here are three more reasons why Slowey is a bad fit:

1. Because you have to get rid of somebody to get him

The most logical candidate might be Jo-Jo Reyes who came over with Yunel Escobar last year and is out of options. But Minnesota would likely want more. And who else would Toronto give up? One of the options for the closer’s role? A solid middle relief option like Janssen or Camp? Not worth it.

2. Because he’d take a starting spot away from somebody

In all likelihood, the top three are set – Romero, Morrow, Cecil. The battle for the final two spots is intense, and crowded, with Marc Rzepczynski, Jessie Litsch, Kyle Drabek, and maybe even Reyes, Brad Mills, Zach Stewart, and Scott Richmond having a shot.

Adding Slowey does nothing but complicate that battle. When doing a straight statistical comparison, I’m not sure I’d even want Slowey:

Career Stats

Kevin Slowey: 39 – 21, 4.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, turns 27 in May

Jessie Litsch: 21 – 24, 4.10 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, just turned 26

Marc Rzepczynski: 6 – 8, 4.32 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, turns 26 in August

(Drabek only has three career starts)

Again – the only thing that really sets Slowey above the other two is his W-L record, which is essentially meaningless.

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I’d prefer the K potential of Rzep and the plush red beard of Litsch any day.

3. Slowey struggles against the AL East

When looking at Slowey’s career splits two things become obvious. One is that he pads his record against Cleveland, Kansas City, and Detroit, and two is that he struggles mightily against the AL East. Since Toronto plays in the AL East, that could be a problem.

vs. NYY: 1 – 1, 4.76 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

vs. BOS : 1 – 2, 4.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

vs. BAL: 1 – 2, 4.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

vs. TB: 0 – 1, 6.75 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

While both Litsch and Rzep have poor numbers against the Yankees both have fared very well against the rest of the division, especially Litsch against Boston (4-2 record, 3.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) and Rzep against Tampa (0-0 record, 2.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP).

It’s a big step-up in competition going from the Royals and the Indians to the Yankees and Red Sox. I’d rather have somebody in the rotation who knows what it takes.

Worst Case Scenario

It must be tough to be a Cardinals fan right now.

On the heels of “Albert-ageddon”, where Pujols did not sign a contract extension before his self-imposed deadline and may now become a free agent at seasons end, comes this:

Adam Wainwright needs Tommy John surgery.


That means St. Louis, a team that will be dogged all season by constant and rampant Pujols speculation, must now do without their staff ace for at least this season.  Since recovery time is normally 12-15 months, AW might also miss part of next season.  A crushing blow.

Wainwright finished second in NL Cy Young voting last season after posting a 20-11 record, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 213 K in 230.1 IP.  In the past four seasons he has gone 64-34, with a 2.93 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 652 K in 797.1 IP.

Those numbers will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

With Pujols, Holliday, and Carpenter still on the roster, the season isn’t over by any means, but the odds just got a LOT longer.

All of which got me thinking about the Jays – does Toronto have a player on the current roster who, if lost for the season today, would cause fans to say “it’s over”?

I thought about it, and I think the answer is no. 

There are really only five players who can even be remotely considered:

– Jose Bautista

– Aaron Hill

– Adam Lind

– Ricky Romero

– Brandon Morrow

The Jays essentially won 85 games last year without Hill and Lind, so they’re out.  Morrow was shut down early last year, and might be shut down early again this year, so no.  This will be Romero’s first year as the ace of the staff, but he hasn’t done enough in his career to suggest he would be a season-crusher.

That leaves Bautista.  Many will argue that if he goes down, we’re sunk.  Iin a way that’s true.  But consider this: a) we aren’t going to contend anyways, and b) he has no track record, nothing to indicate that he will pop 50 HR again this year.

So no, there is not a single member on this year’s club whose loss would hurt like Wainwright’s.

We don’t really have a player who means as much to the club as Lincecum does to SF, or Longoria does to Tampa Bay, or even Votto does to Cincinnati. 

Not sure if that’s a good thing (one significant injury wouldn’t cripple us) or a bad thing (one player won’t carry us). 

But I’m glad I’m not a Cardinal fan.

For the record, here are my top-3 Jays in franchise history where I would throw up my hands if they were lost for a season.

1. Roy Halladay (2005 – it happened after he broke his leg in July and was lost for the season.  The Jays were done after that.)

2. Roger Clemens (1998)

3. Carlos Delgado (2000)

Quick Poll – Who Would You Rather Have?

With a smile like that, who wouldn't want Delgado back?


The top baseball stories of the past few days have nothing to do with the current version of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

They do, however, have everything to do with former members of the organization.

First came word that at 38 years of age, former Blue Jay All-Star Carlos Delgado wants a shot at a major league comeback.  Delgado last played in 2009 for the New York Mets, and is coming off a third hip surgery.

Then yesterday came bigger news that Rangers 3B Michael Young, the face of the Texas ball club, wants out.  He has requested a trade because he has been “misled and manipulated” by the Rangers, and “can’t take it anymore.”  Young, of course, was a fifth round draft choice of the Blue Jays in 1997 and was later dealt in an awful trade for Esteban Loaiza.

Now, both men are available. 

The next question is: who would you rather have on the Jays?

Let’s meet the candidates:

Carlos Delgado


– Former Blue Jay hero and fan favourite

– 27 HR away from 500 giving fans a milestone to root for

– Would be cheap

– Very nice smile


– 38 years old

– Hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 10, 2009

– After three hip surgeries, no guarantees he can even walk let alone swing a bat

– Likely a DH only, meaning EE has to play the field

Michael Young


– Career .300 hitter


– 34 years old

– Still has 3 years / $48-million left on his contract

– Can only be acquired via trade

– Using both standard (errors) and advanced (zone fielding runs) metrics, he’s a worse defensive 3B than Encarnacion

– Career .322 AVG / .859 OPS in Texas, but only .279 AVG / .733 OPS on the road, including a weak .717 OPS at Rogers Centre

– Blue Jays are NOT among the eight teams he will consider playing for 



Unless……the Jays can sign Delgado to one of those cheap “I want to finish my career in the place where I started” contracts, AND only start him occasionally, AND use him predominantly as a pinch-hitter, AND put a clause in his contract that says he must come out of the dugout and wave to the fans at some point during every game, AND force him to retire before the end of the season so the Jays can have an on-field tribute to him.

I’d be OK with that.

In fact, I’d quite like that.


Lee to the Phillies - a punch in the face to the Yanks


The New York Yankees wanted Cliff Lee.  They had history, tradition, fan base, allure, and a powerhouse roster on their side.  They also had money, more money than any other team could offer.  Surely he would choose them.

The Texas Rangers wanted Cliff Lee.  They had new owners (including a hall-of-fame pitcher), a young, competitive team, passionate fans, and proximity to Lee’s home.  They also had familiarity on their side, since he played for them last season.  Oh – Texas also had a lot of money due to new ownership and a new TV contract.  Surely he would choose them.

Then came rumours of a mystery team, likely the Anaheim Angels.  Not only could they offer a ton of money, but they almost had to sign Lee to erase years of offseason failure.  Over the past five or six years they had set their sights on – and failed to acquire – Paul Konerko, Alfonso Soriano, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and this year Carl Crawford.  Surely Lee would sign with them.

Lee wanted a seven-year contract.  Very few teams could offer that.  The Yankees did.

So Cliff Lee signed a five-year deal with the Phillies.


It makes no sense.

The Phillies had him – but traded him away.  He didn’t want to go, but they got rid of him anyways. 

The Yankees and Rangers offered him more money and more guaranteed years.

And yet…it makes the most sense in the world.

He loved Philadelphia.  And he loves winning. 

By re-joining the Phillies he returns to the city he enjoyed more than any other during his big league career.  He loved the fans, the park, and felt comfortable.  He also joins the team that has to be considered a World Series favourite, or at the very least the NL favourite.

Think about that rotation – Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels?  Scary.

So it’s back to the drawing board for the Yanks, who now have to hope that an aging Andy Pettitte decides to come back and join an aging Jeter, aging A-Rod, aging Rivera, aging Posada, and broken down Burnett. 

Fans are rejoicing.


Two rapid thoughts before signing off:

1. Yes Lee turned down the Yankees.  Yes he didn’t choose the highest bidder.  But can we please stop anointing him a saint?  It’s not like he turned down $148-million to become a bank teller.  He turned down $148-million for $100-million (maybe more).  As I read last night on Twitter (can’t remember who wrote it): it’s much easier to leave $50-million on the table when you have $100-million.

2. My free-agent predictions have been pathetic, just as bad as my playoff predictions.  Aside from the obvious (Jeter and Rivera back with NY), I have only nailed Victor Martinez to Detroit.  I was wrong on Jayson Werth (I said Boston), Carl Crawford (Anaheim), Lee (NY), Adam Dunn (A’s), Paul Konerko (Rangers), and Jorge De La Rosa (Rangers).

A Turd That Won’t Flush

The free agency period has begun. 

The arbitration deadline has come and gone. 

Everybody who is in any way interested in the great game of baseball now waits with great anticipation to see where the big names will fall. 

Jeter.  Rivera.  Werth.  Crawford.  Lee.  Upton.  Greinke.  Ramirez.  The list is long.

Some bigger names have already signed deals (Joaquin Benoit, Aubrey Huff), but did you know that 73 different players have signed free agent contracts thus far?  Most are of the minor league variety, but many names are familiar:

– Jay Gibbons (to the LA Dodgers)

– Justin Miller (to Seattle)

– Dallas McPherson (to the White Sox)

– Josh Barfield (to Philadelphia)

But one name in particular stood out.  I was so shocked and horrified to see his name that I practically pulled a Mama Cass and choked on my sandwich. 

My friends, on November 11th, the one-and-only Kevin Cash signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers.

Kevin Cash has been, and continues to be, a sore spot with me.  He was once the crown jewel of Toronto’s farm system, known as our “Catcher of the Future”.  But he was so bad, so terribly pathetic at the plate, that the future came to an end in three years.

Since that time I like to think of Cash as a turd that won’t flush.  He is a piece of crap that just won’t go away, coming so close, so many times to being out of baseball for good (full season in triple-A in 2006, a brief retirement in 2009), but popping back up shortly thereafter.

How he continues to find teams is beyond me, a miracle of modern day society.  His career stats are vomit inducing: .183 average, .248 OBP, .278 SLG, .526 OPS, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 195 K’s, in 641 AB over 8 seasons.

He has a career WAR of -3.6, meaning that a minor league player would have provided a team with almost four more wins than Cash. 

Yet somehow Kevin Cash is still a sought after commodity.  It would be less of a slap in the face if it was the Royals or Pirates who kept signing him.  But no – he has played for Tampa Bay, Boston (where he actually won a World Series in ’07), New York, and Houston.  Now it is the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers who bring him off the scrap heap.  Come on!

Maybe he wowed Texas with his new-found versatility – he pitched an inning for Houston last year (3 H, 1 ER). 

Maybe it was because he had the second greatest stretch of his career playing in the state of Texas (20 games, .204 average, .605 OPS, 2 HR).

Whatever the case may be, please MLB – stop recycliing Kevin Cash! 

And while you’re at it, do the same with Eric Hinske.

Yours truly,

500 Level Fan

ps. I don’t like Kevin Cash.

Short and Sweet – Way to Go Doc!

First, let me clarify – I am over Roy Halladay.  I have moved on.

But in the past I pulled for Tony Fernandez in Cleveland, cheered for Fred  McGriff in Atlanta, and felt happy for Shawn Green in LA and Carlos Delgado in NY.

So I can easily admit that I felt some pride today when it was announced that Halladay had won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award. 

He not only won it – he won it unanimously, becoming the 13th NL pitcher to accomplish that feat.  He also became the 5th pitcher in MLB history to win the award in both leagues.

The stats speak for themselves: 21 – 10. 2.44 ERA, 9 CG, 4 shutouts, and 250.2 IP.  Plus one regular season perfect game and one playoff no-hitter.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

So congrats Roy.  But leave the World Series to us…

Eternal Questions for the Modern Mind

Derek Jeter, the "best fielding SS" in the AL

We all know these ones:

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest with nobody around, does it make a sound?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Why does the ugliest guy at the bar always end up with the hottest girl?

How do the Pittsburgh Pirates still suck?

Well, here’s another:

If Derek Jeter didn’t play in New York, would he ever win a Gold Glove?


The AL Gold Glove recipients were announced yesterday, and Derek Jeter won for AL SS, for the fifth time!

Looking at basic fielding statistics, the choice appears sound.  Of the 16 AL shortstops who played at least 500 innings at the position, here are Jeter’s rankings:

Fewest Errors Commited – 1st (6)

Fielding % – 1st (.989)

Back in the day, that would be enough.

But you would think that in an age where advanced statistics are readily available, gold glove voters would be more intelligent.

Look at where he ranks in some more advanced statistical categories:

Total Zone Fielding Runs – 16th (dead last), at -10 (meaning he was 10 runs worse than an average SS)

BIS +/- – 15th (second last), at -13 (meaning he was 13 runs worse than an average SS)

Range Factor – 15th (second last)

Even looking at standard stats in a different way tells you a new story.  Jeter had the 7th most chances in the AL, but played the 4th highest number of innings, putting him dead last in chances per inning.  His ratio was 0.424 chances per inning; the league average was .505. 

That could mean a) he simply didn’t have a lot of balls hit to him this year or b) he isn’t athletic enough to reach the same number of balls as a normal SS would.  All you had to do was open your eyes this year to see that option b was more realistic.  What I saw was an aging player who was slower, less agile, covered less ground, and had a weaker arm than other shortstops.

Yet, because he plays in New York, because he looks good when he makes a jumping spin throw from the hole, and most of all because he’s Derek Jeter, more deserving candidates (Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, etc.) have to wait.

Good job voters, good job.

Where Will They Sign?

I’m a sucker for any fantasy game on 

I have been playing Beat the Streak, Beat the Streak HR Edition, and Survivor for the past three or four years.  So when the new Free Agent Frenzy game was released last week, I jumped in instantly.

It has been well documented on this site how terrible I am at baseball predictions, so the odds of me winning the grand prize aren’t slim-to-none.  They’re just none.

But other than being fun and killing a few minutes of my work day, it also gave me an idea for a blog post.  Where will 12 key free agents sign this offseason? 

Keep in mind the 12 players listed below were chosen by, not me.  Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and John Buck were not left out on purpose.

The No-Brainer Division

Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter

2010: New York Yankees, 2011: New York Yankees

Yes I’ve heard the rumours that the Jeter re-signing process will be longer and more difficult than expected.  But come on – is there actually any chance the Yankees let two icons, two of the most recognized Yankees in franchise history, end their careers elsewhere?  Not a chance.

The Logical Train of Thought Division

Carl Crawford

2010: Rays, 2011: Angels

Logic: The Angels have money, they missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2006, and they want to be aggressive this offseason.  Torii Hunter has already been pushing for Crawford, and seeing how fragile Crawford looked after being heckled in Toronto last year, I think he is afraid of the traditional big East-coast markets.

Adrian Beltre

2010: Red Sox, 2011: Angels

Logic: See the first sentence about Crawford.  Then consider this: incumbent 3B Brandon Wood hit .146 last year with a .382 OPS in over 200 AB.  He has a career average of .169 in parts of four seasons with LA.  Enough said.

Jayson Werth

2010: Phillies, 2011: Red Sox

Logic: Boston missed the playoffs last year, for the first time since 2006.  Boston needs to make a splash to stay close to the Yankees.  Boston doesn’t have a power hitting outfielder with a strong arm.  Should be obvious.

Cliff Lee

2010: Mariners/Rangers, 2011: Yankees

Logic: As much as every baseball fan across North America is pleading with Cliff Lee to not sign with New York, it’s obvious he’s going to.  If he wanted to stay in Texas he would have re-signed before free agency.  When somebody says “I’ve earned the right to explore the open market” they are all about money.  See: Sabathia, CC; Burnett, A.J.; Teixeira, Mark.  All signed with the Yanks.  So will Lee.

Carl Pavano

2010: Twins, 2011: Twins

Logic: He has a bad reputation, he is an aging starter, and the last time he had a good year he robbed the Yankees of $39 million.  Nobody will reach out to sign this guy, so why bother testing the market?  He pitched well for the Twins last year, and he should stay there in 2011.

Victor Martinez

2010: Red Sox, 2011: Tigers

Logic: Seems to have fallen out of favour in Boston.  Detroit’s catcher is a 23-year old kid named Alex Avila who hit .228 last year.  They need a catcher, want to make a big free agent splash, and have a lot of money coming off the books.

The “I Have Absolutely No Idea” Division

Adam Dunn

2010: Nationals, 2011: A’s

No Idea: Dunn loves the National League and is fighting the inevitable by not wanting to DH.  NL teams don’t seem too enamored with Dunn, and AL teams want him to DH.  Something’s gotta give.  Usually in these kinds of spots a team that nobody expects swoops in and signs the player.  One team that seems to do that a lot? Oakland.

Paul Konerko

2010: White Sox, 2011: Rangers

No Idea: I haven’t heard a lot about Konerko thus far.  But he is coming off a monster year (.312 avg, .977 OPS, 39 HR, 111 RBI) and unlike Jim Thome can still play the field.  There’s a chance he stays in Chicago, but Texas is stacked everywhere but 1B, and if they don’t get Lee they have cash to burn.

Rafael Soriano

2010: Rays, 2011: White Sox

No Idea: I chose the White Sox by making a variety of assumptions.

1. He will stay in the AL (Cut – all NL teams)

2. He wants to play for a contender (Cut – Orioles, Jays, Royals, Indians, TIgers, Mariners, A’s)

Of the remaining teams, he’s too expensive for the Rays, and the other teams have established closers already (NY = Rivera, Bos = Papelbon, Det = Valverde, Min = Nathan, Angels = Rodney, Rangers = Feliz).  Chicago has Jenks, but after last season they don’t look like they trust him.

Jorge De La Rosa

2010: Rockies, 2011: Rangers

No Idea: The Good – he’s young, left-handed, his WHIP has been improving, and he’s a big strikeout pitcher (K/9 > 8.4 3 straight years).  The Bad – he’s wildly inconsistent, only averages about 6 inning per start, walks a lot of batters, has never had an ERA below 4.20, and is a .500 pitcher.  The Ugly – he will likely want a lucrative 5-year deal.  But if Texas loses Lee, this will be their guy.

This Guy Cleans Up Well…

Bautista and Votto with Hank Aaron (

So there I was, watching Game 4 of the World Series last night, and lo and behold, who should appear on my TV screen?  None other than a dapper looking Jose Bautista.

The Jays slugger was presented with the 2010 Hank Aaron Award in Texas, after being recognized as the top hitter in the American League by fans and media.

Bautista became the second Blue Jay to win the award in its 12 year history, joining Carlos Delgado in 2000.

Wearing a fancy suit, black shirt, and a few days stubble on his face, Bautista looked like he would rather be dressed in a dirty uniform, playing in the World Series.  

Who knows?  The Jays might only be a few offseason acquisitions away from making that a reality.

One thing’s for certain – considering he hit 54 home runs with a sports hernia last year, there is a very good chance that this isn’t the last we see of Bautista winning awards.

But hopefully next year he’ll be accepting it in a Blue Jays uniform instead of a designer suit.

The Grandaddy of ‘Em All

For those who have read my prediction columns throughout the summer, you know what to expect – crap.

While I did manage to successfully predict seven of the eight playoff teams, my stat and trade guesses were way off.

Then, I only hit 50% of my Division Series picks.

Then, I decided to skip the LCS matchups altogether.  Good thing too, because I don’t think the Yankees and Phillies are still alive…

But, I can’t resist taking one more crack at the can.  I have to take a shot at the World Series.

So…here goes….

Pitching – Starters

Hard to say who has the better 1-2 punch.  San Francisco has Lincecum and Cain – a combined 2 – 1, 2.11 ERA in the NLCS.  Texas has Lee and Lewis – a combined 3 -0, 1.25 ERA in the ALCS.  The #3 guys – Sanchez for SF and Wilson for TEX – are both left handed, and both have the ability to dominate if they are on.  Both teams have rookies or near-rookies (Madison Bumgarner and Tommy Hunter) as the fourth man.  Pretty much a dead heat, if not for the fact that Cliff Lee is a robot and does not feel pressure, does not sweat, and does not bleed.

Edge – Rangers

Pitching – Bullpen

Texas has the sexier closer in Neftali Feliz, but San Francisco has Brian “The Beard” Wilson, who is just as dependable.  It’s the other guys who give the edge to SF.  Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla are all strikeout machines and impose more fear than the average (but admittedly effective) Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day.  Plus the Giants have played so many close games in the playoffs that their bullpen is battle tested.

Edge – Giants


Texas is powered by the long ball.  Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz combined for 6 against NY, and they also boast Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Bengie Molina, and David Murphy who can all go deep.  Plus they have incredible team speed and aggressiveness, lead by Elvis Andrus.  They swiped 9 bags against the Yanks.  San Francisco stole only one base against the Phillies, and aside from NLCS MVP Cody Ross, hit only one HR (Ross had three).  They are a grinding team.  Texas has more ways to beat you.

Edge – Rangers


Both teams have made a similar number of errors in the postseason (Texas 7 – SF 6, though Texas has played one more game).  Both teams are stocked full of solid defenders, though the Rangers likely have an edge with Hamilton and Cruz in the OF and Andrus at SS.  The big question mark will be in Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 when Vladimir Guerrero will play RF.  He used to be a Gold Glover…”used to be” being the key phrase.

Edge – Even


Texas had never won a playoff series before this year, so they have obviously never won a World Series.  The Giants have never won a World Series in San Francisco, their last championship coming when they played in New York at the Polo Grounds.  The Giants will want to win one for Aubrey Huff, a man who played 1,479 regular season games before finally making his playoff debut this year.  But the Rangers will want to win one for Michael Young, a man who played 1,508 regular season games before finally making his playoff debut this year.

Edge – Even

The Winner

I would like to answer “I have no idea”, but I don’t think I can get away with that.  The teams match up incredibly even in almost every aspect of the game that it’s almost too tough to call.  You would be an idiot to bet against two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, but I think you’d be a bigger idiot to bet against playoff mastermind Cliff Lee.  I know he lost the World Series last year, so it is possible to beat a Cliff Lee lead team, but I think he uses that as motivation.

Rangers in 7